A Chinese vaccination firm has been fined US$ 1.3bn after it was found to have illegally produced the human rabies vaccine. Changchun Changsheng had blended different batches of vaccine fluid and used expired fluid to produce some of the batches, according to state news agency Xinhua.
The company also falsified production data for the vaccine. This is not the first major vaccine scandal to hit China. Changchun Changsheng's pharmaceutical production license has also been revoked and its illegally produced vaccines have been confiscated.
Some of the company's executives may also face criminal charges. This is a most stringent administrative penalty on record an official at the China Food and Drug Administration told financial news website Caixin.
The company must be held responsible for its intentional fraud.
Earlier in July, it was revealed that Changchun Changsheng had falsified production data for its rabies vaccine. The company was then ordered to halt production and recall its vaccines.
There was then no evidence of harm from the vaccine, but the scandal sparked a huge outcry in China, and thousands took to social media in anger.
The incident also led to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ordering a crackdown on the vaccine industry, saying the incident had crossed a moral line.
This is not the first time substandard vaccines have been produced in China. In 2016, an illegal vaccine ring which involved hundreds of people was uncovered. Some US$ 88m worth of vaccines were found to be inadequately refrigerated and were not transported in approved conditions.